This 1977 biopic, which was advised by Phillip Knightley, cannot be faulted for distortion of the known facts of the case, although they are so compressed that they seem to have been forced into a telescope backwards. It can, however, be faulted for its egregiously shoddy production values. The entire enterprise, in fact, reminds me of one of those dreadful after-school specials that they used to have on TV, in which the producers were flogging some topical issue such as the dangers of teen promiscuity or substance abuse (in this case, the dangers of Soviet espionage). As with the teen specials, the leading actors (Anthony Bate as Philby, and Derek Jacobi as Burgess) are excellent, but the story itself is merely a recitation of events, with no pace, no buildup of suspense. Furthermore, the quality of the DVD itself [which seems to have been pirated off a VHS tape] with its flickering lighting, and over-saturated dark colors that disintegrate into rainbow blobs, is ghastly. Even the introduction theme, with its long shadows on red cobblestones, lamp post, rolling soccer ball and bulldog (One supposes that they are meant to represent England under the communist threat.), looks both dated and amateurish. One finds better visuals on computer games. And the music with its wheezy out-of-tune canned saxophones--or whatever they are--is quite opprobrious. This DVD is recommended only for those who are addicted to the topic of the Cambridge Spies.
And even we have our limits!